iPhone 4S launch from the Apple Store queue
An Apple launch is quite something to behold. Think of the footage you've seen of young girls screaming at the Beatles in the 60s, then swap Paul McCartney for Apple and the girls for geeks. That is about the closest thing we can think of to describe scene.
The iPhone 4S has been the biggest product Apple has ever launched, managing more than 1 million pre-orders in a single 24 hours. That is an unimaginable amount of consumer demand for a device and proof yet again that Apple fans are devoted as ever. So devoted in fact that those who don't pre-order choose to queue, filling the area around Apple's Regent Street and Covent Garden store in a sort of ritualistic yearly pilgrimage. Some queue for as long as 10 days in order to make sure they are the first in the country to grab a new Apple device, others are there for the atmosphere, either way it is like Glastonbury for Apple fans.
Naturally Pocket-lint couldn't afford to miss out on all this excitement, let alone the opportunity to be amongst a flock of gadget lovers so large. So it was up early doors and down to central London to capture the action.
First up was Regent Street; we arrived at around 6am. A select few Apple devotees, around the first 20 in the queue, had been allowed to stay directly outside the store. The rest, of which there were already hundreds, had been lined up around the corner and all the way down into a small park just off Regent Street.
First in line were our old friends Craig Fox and Daniel James, the two jailbreakers who had cemented their place as number one in the queue last Friday. After nearly a week sat outside the store in Regent Street they weren't looking quite as fresh as when we last saw them. Still the excitement and atmosphere was definitely enough to wake anyone up.
Craig Fox and Daniel James - 1st in queue at Regent Street
"We have been here 160 hours". "I'll use it on the train and then straight to bed, I will play with it for like an hour.
"There have been some perks of being first in the queue: we got offered flights to Dubai".
Sitting closely behind was familiar face and usual Apple queuer Jewels Lewis, known for his iPad antics. Although not claiming the top spot this time, he was definitely in the market for some new Apple products, planning on picking up both an iPhone 4S and a new Nano.
Jewels Lewis - Regent Street
"I have more love for the iPad than the phone. When I found out this lot were number one, it's like a community, we have bonded now from the iPad 2.
"You have got to start from somewhere. It is the same group of us who are this dedicated to Apple products.
"I don't know if you would call us mad or Apple fanatics, even freaks, but we know what we are doing".
It was then onto Covent Garden, but not before a brief look at just how long the iPhone 4S queue tailed back around Regent Street. We would say there was upwards of a thousand people queueing and this was at around 6.30am. So many in fact that Apple had been forced to construct a small secondary base in a park behind its Regent Street store.
Covent Garden felt like a different kettle of fish altogether. It was far more manic, partly because by the time Pocket-lint got there it was approaching door opening time. Apple had managed to control the crowds, but the queue was going all the way around Covent Garden. Tickets were being handed out so that people couldn't go and pick up multiple handsets for friends. There was a two-phone limit which you would think would be enough, but believe us many people were looking to pick up ten or twenty, likely to immediately sell them on.
First in line at Covent Garden was Rob Shoesmith, who had been waiting outside the Apple store for a quite frankly unbelievable 10 days.
Rob Shoesmith - 1st in line at Covent Garden
"I've queued up for 10 nights so yes I want to get the iPhone now. I'm absolutely shattered.
"I wanted to see if I could live indirectly over Apple's huge media influence. It worked".
Behind Shoesmith was a sea of rampant Apple fans who were working themselves up into some sort of quasi-pagan frenzy as the 8am opening approached. We managed to grab a few other queuers before taking cover away from the shop doors.
Matthew Kelly and Craig Shafer - Covent Garden
Kelly: "I've got geriatric a 3G, so I'm excited about going to the iPhone 4S."
Shafer: "I have a crappy Samsung so I can't wait."
Kelly: "I want to get my phone and go to bed. I am hugely excited, I'm off to a job interview after."
Kelly: "I have queued for Harry Potter books like this before."
The Apple employees then began clapping maniacally to get the crowd worked up after what had been, for some, more than a 24-hour wait in the freezing London cold. A few slightly sleep-ridden eyes were immediately woken up the second those doors opened. In the fans went and out the exit they came, iPhone 4S in hand, grins on faces, safe in the knowledge that for a few seconds they were amongst the first to own a new Apple device.
Just like that the launch was over, and Apple then took to dealing with the reality of shifting an impossibly huge number of handsets in one single day. The Apple store workers were still clapping when we left, and we suspect will be for a good few hours to come.